As many of you know, I spend a lot of time on the trains here in Chicago. I find human behavior fascinating, bewildering, and everything in between. I wrote a post last year about assumptions; we all make them, and sometimes we are spot on. Ah, but then there are those other times where our assumptions are simply based on habitual thoughts and beliefs we have created all by ourselves. I know it is a good thing to ‘assume’ that meeting a stranger wearing a scary mask in a dark alley would probably lend itself well to the huge assumption that you need to get the heck out of there!
However, a lot of life is made from a judgment call in any given situation. I was on the train a few days ago at an off-peak time. A gentleman boarded the train toting behind him an old, disheveled suitcase of sorts. Its contents were sticking out of the bag at various spots. Quietly he began to open the bag and take out a stack of newsletter/brochure/booklet type items. My initial thought was, oh no, what is he selling because it’s illegal to sell/beg/steal/borrow? on the train.
As I glanced over at him I realized this gentle person wasn’t selling anything at all. In fact, he was carefully placing these booklets on any empty seat he found. He also handed a booklet to various passengers without saying a word. I took one and began to smile. The booklet I was handed was simply a free publication from a local organization and are available from news boxes everywhere (health and wellness related topics which I had seen and read before). I saw another brochure on an empty seat which was about family and community activities for everyone.
I began to read my hand-picked publication. After several stops, the man simply left the train, and carried on his way. My initial thought and assumption was completely incorrect. He simply felt it a nice idea to share some kindness and provide fellow travelers with some reading material that did not cost him (nor us) a single penny. With his quiet demeanor, I realized that from his perspective he was doing something kind without asking for anything in return. The INTENTION was what mattered, not the publication or whatever it was. And you know something, I like that a lot. I hope I see the magazine man again; this time I won’t be so quick to jump from A-C without first considering B. You get the picture; or in this case, booklet!
Oh and by the way, the picture of the magazine at the top of this post? It’s the publication I received from the gentleman on the train that day!